Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Review

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Cross-Platform Tests Continued

Photoshop CS5
Real-World Photo Manipulation Software
Using the latest version of Photoshop, we ran a Photoshop Action on a 254MB PSD file that has a resolution of 3,600x4,800, a bit depth of 300-dpi, and has 5 layers. The Action duplicates a layer; applies a number of filters, including Dust & Scratches, Reduce Noise, Diffuse Glow, Lens Blur, Palette Knife, Accented Edges, Unsharp Mask, Water Paper, and Tetxturizer Canvas; reduces the image size; flattens the image; and finally converts the image to a Working CMYK file. The test was hand-timed with a stopwatch. The systems were rebooted and allowed to sit idle for at least 5 minutes between test runs.

Once again the Core i5-based MacBook Pro doesn't surprise us with its top performance. As opposed to what we saw with the CineBench tests, however, here we see the MacBook Pro's Windows performance take about a 2.5-percent lead over its Mac OS performance--just as some code is more efficient on the Mac OS, other code is more efficient in Windows. Also, the performance difference between the Core i5 MacBook Pro and the iMac is almost negligible.

iTunes 9.1
Real-World Audio File Transcoding
Using the latest version of iTunes, we loaded 15 M4A audio files into iTunes that were encoded with the Apple Lossless codec. The files ranged in size from 6.2MB to 25.2MB, for a total of 268.8MB. We hand-timed with a stopwatch how long it took the system to convert all 15 M4A files to 192Kbps MP3 files

What we saw with the iTunes test is that the Mac OS version of iTunes is far more efficient than the Windows version--in the particular case of the Core i5-based MacBook Pro, iTunes was nearly 37-percent faster under the Mac OS than with Windows. Perhaps this doesn't come as a surprise, given that iTunes is an Apple product, and the company has been making the Mac version for many more years than the Windows version, and therefore has had plenty more time to streamline the code. The iMac was only 6 seconds behind the Core i5-based MacBook Pro, because iTunes encoding performance is very dependent on raw CPU speed and the faster clock speed in the iMac gives it a notable boost.

Half-Life 2
Real-World 3D Gaming Performance
Using the most updated Mac and Windows versions of Half-Life 2 from Steam, we played back a custom-recorded timedemo. We ran this test at 1,024x768 and 1,280x800. In both cases, we set all of the in-game settings to High and antialiasing (AA) to 4x.

With an Nvidia GeForce GT 330M providing its 3D graphics power, the new MacBook Pro puts out excellent performance on the older Half-Life 2 game--garnering 117.6 frames per second (FPS) at 1,024x768, and 109.1 FPS at 1,280x1,200, under the Mac OS. Half-Life 2 is an admittedly older game and is not truly representative of the graphics processing demands on some of today's more robust titles. That said, the GT 330M should be able to provide moderate capabilities for any title that isn't too hardcore--especially if you are willing to turn down some of the image-quality settings and lower the resolution. The MacBook Pro can be used for a fair bit of 3D gaming.

The list of Mac games is growing all the time--with Steam frequently announcing games being ported over to the Mac OS and new titles arriving simultaneously with Windows and Mac versions. Even with the Mac platform finally starting to become a real gaming platform, we're still seeing better performance under Windows than with the Mac OS. In terms of the selection of titles and best-possible performance, anyone looking to use the new MacBook Pro for gaming would be best served by installing Boot Camp and playing the games in a native Windows session.

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